Author Feature - June 2021

Martin Willitts Jr. is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, New York.

He was nominated for 15 Pushcart and 13 Best of the Net awards. Winner of: the 2012 Big River Poetry Review’s William K. Hathaway Award; 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; 2013 “Trees” Poetry Contest; 2014 Broadsided award; 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, November 2016; Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018. He won a Central New York Individual Artist Award and provided “Poetry on The Bus” which had 48 poems in local buses including 20 bi-lingual poems from 7 different languages.

Martin Willitts Jr. has 25 chapbooks including the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019, The Temporary World. His recent book is Unfolding Towards Love (Wipf and Stock, 2020).

He is an editor for The Comstock Review, and he is judge for the New York State Fair Poetry Contest. This is his second book with Deerbrook Editions.

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Spinning clay into pots, 

shaping what is in my mind, 

the kick wheel music, 

rain on leaves, dreams molding

a pot out of nothingness, 

by the urging womp, womp 

of the kicking wheel.

If my project doesn’t match my vision, 

I’ll let the clay collapse like rain clouds.

In the soundlessness,

dripping leaves or hiding sparrows

shaking brown wings, 

the wheel kicking slow 

and fast, 

my mind elsewhere, guiding the clay.

What will it be?

After the kiln, the clay dries on a rack. 

If unhappy, I’ll smash it into the trash.

Perfection makes a terrible taskmaster.

Anticipation can cause a let-down.

If satisfied, I’ll sit in a craft fair until the pot sold,

hoping for a sale, a connection, 

people imaging filling its perfect emptiness.

Buyers flying off like excitable sparrows in rain.

The quiet fills the room. 

But I place inside each pot 

a song, the patter of rain, a leaf rustle.

At sundown, the vermilion sky 

and the blossom of solitude opens moonlight.

Branches slow down the flow of geese.

The blossom of silence opens, 

stamping feet in snow.

If all goes well, we should return in time.

The woods are vast and quiet. It’s dark earlier 

than we expect. Somewhere behind 

is home. Home is both near and far.

We are not lost. We’ve misplaced our steps.

It is closed-in quiet in these woods. 

Snow speaks in soft whispers.


A collision of matter began 

the universe on its long, 

inevitable journey in darkness, 

totting along balls of heated light 

like glow sticks 

and gravity, soon attracting planets 

and moons enraptured 

by the invitation, finally 

settling on a pattern of rotation 

like on a slow, tedious 


like Calder mobiles. 

My friend circles the edges of a crowd, 

peering for a likely date, 

discarding some 

as inappropriate, 

weighing options or fruit,

and some seem out of reach, 


Choice ones become quickly snatched,

taken by other explorers 

marking their discovery, 

planting invisible flags.

And when my friend moves in, 

a woman separates from the herd, flees.

In my garden, 

a manifestation of bees 

finding the patch of fresh, spring flowers, 

hum with mutual pleasure.

Moth collide with suns of lightbulbs.

The running woman spits into infinity: 

several fragments of ideas, 

none of which belonging to here anymore.